One of the reasons we picked a language school in Le Marche was because we wanted to be able to explore some areas of Italy that we have not seen in our previous travels. Our location in Ascoli Piceno has provided a base to explore part of southern Marche and northern Abruzzo, and we have seen many areas that are truly beautiful.
The Piceno region north of Ascoli Piceno between Offida and Rotella matches Chianti for its rolling farmland and hilltop towns made of brick and stone at every turn. The Peligna valley area in Abruzzo is surrounded be majestic mountains which still had some small patches of snow. This area reminded us of northern New Mexico, our home state, with the vast vistas, but here again there were hilltop medieval towns dotting the sides of this wide valley.
These areas, as well as Ascoli Piceno itself, are beautiful gems in an area of Italy that do not see a lot of American tourists but can match the beauty and pure medieval charm of any part of Italy. The one thing they do lack is the abundance of Renaissance art available in places like Napoli, Firenze, Venezia or Roma. There is a definite lack of tourist gift and trinket shops and many times to find a postcard in a town we would have to search the local tabaccharia.
Each of these areas has their own slight variation on the local cuisine including pasta dishes, types of meat, sweets and wines. We have enjoyed the flavors, and the prices are much lower than we have seen in the Lazio region.